Release Date: November 15, 2011
Publisher: Fiction Addiction
Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
Sixteen-year-old Mara Westray has just lost her mother, and now, being shipped off to live with the father she doesn’t know is not how she imagined grieving. She’s already counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can leave the tiny island of Swans Landing.
But from the moment she steps off the ferry, nothing is as ordinary as it looks. Whispers of a haunting song on the wind make her see impossible things, and she isn’t sure she can trust her judgment about what is real and what isn’t anymore. Maybe she can’t even trust her judgment about quiet Josh Canavan, whose way of speaking in riddles and half-truths only confuses her more, luring her deeper into the secrets hidden beneath the ocean’s surface.
As she tries to unravel the events that led to her mom fleeing the island sixteen years ago, Mara finds that the biggest secret of all is only the beginning.
I have a confession.
When I watched Disney's The Little Mermaid for the first time, it changed the course of my life!Ok, not really. I'm just a grown woman who loves mermaid stories...
So is Surfacing a good choice for someone (like me) desperately looking for a fishy tale?
Is it the mermaid story that I've spent countless years searching for?
But was good enough.
Surfacing is an interesting story that blends mermaids and sirens into one mythical being, and calls them finfolk. I'm not sure this is really a new idea, but it was still cool.
When it opens, Mara is on her way to meet her dad for the first time since she was a baby. And instead of finding herself with the father of her dreams, she ends up meeting a scruffy dude who looks like he's one step away from a homeless shelter. He's an artist and a fisherman, who (if his run-down house is any indicator) isn't doing so well financially. Bonus! Their relationship, while bad enough when it was non-existent, turns into a hostile mess once they are under the same roof. And to make matters worse, his specialty seems to be clamming up and walking out the door when things get awkward between them.
So. He's emotionally distant, poor, and looks like a hobo.
Basically everything you could want in a father!
On top of her family problems, Mara starts to notice that something is really weird about Swans Landing. Not only is she being openly bullied at school for unknown reasons, but it also appears that none of the adults (including her father) are willing to step in and do anything about it. Even her father and his close friends are treated poorly by people from the town, and they seem just as unwilling to stand up for themselves as they are to stand up for her. Between the cryptic taunts and the crazy woman that keeps popping up out of nowhere to scream at her, Mara is pretty darn sure her new home is hiding a strange secret.
Unfortunately, no one will tell her what is going on.
I thought this part of the book was fairly frustrating. I get that her father didn't want to freak her out over the whole 'Hey you might turn into a fish!' thing, but it seemed to drag on a bit too long for my taste.
After she discovers who and what she is, there is still the problem of the regular humans in the town. It seems that at one point, the finfolk and the humans had a fairly peaceful relationship. The events surrounding what happened to create all of the animosity between the two groups becomes the second mystery Mara needs to solve.
Again, I had a problem with the way the humans retaliated against the finfolk. I didn't understand why they didn't 'out' them to the world if they hated them so much. The explanation given was that 'no one would believe them'. Eh? Has no one in Swans Landing heard of a video camera? If they know when and where they go to transform, then surely someone could sneak out there and record it, right? Seemed like a sketchy line of reasoning to think that no one would bother to at least try to expose their secret.
There is, of course, a love story running in the background. Now at first I thought the guy was a total douche, because he stood by doing nothing while his evil girlfriend picked on and abused Mara. However, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed a tad more realistic that he might not want to stick his neck out for some girl he just met.
Wait. No, I still think he's a bit of a douche.
But by the end of the book, I felt he had redeemed himself. And once his secrets came to light, it was a little bit easier to understand some of his more questionable actions.
The story has a good resolution, but also leaves the door wide open for the next book in the series. That one seems like it will focus on one of the side characters from this novel who is out to solve the mystery about the role her family played in Swan's Landing's downfall.
Again, I think Surfacing is going to be more enjoyable to those in the market for a story about mermaids, rather than someone just looking for a new young adult book with a paranormal twist.